This post features “extinct attraction” photos of Spaceship Earth from EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World. Spaceship Earth is an 18-story geodesic sphere that serves as the main icon for Epcot, as well as an attraction based upon the history and significance of human communication that has been sponsored by various AT&T entities and, presently, Seimens. Although Spaceship Earth isn’t extinct in the sense that it’s totally gone, the original version of it is extinct, as well as some of its original entrance-area exterior look. Spaceship Earth has seen some of its show scenes, narrators, and soundtrack change over the years, but its message remains the same, as does the basic look of the exterior of the geodesic sphere (no, it is not a “giant golf ball”) housing the attraction.
Although Spaceship Earth doesn’t have the same loyal following as Journey into Imagination or Horizons, this is likely because Spaceship Earth still exists, albeit as a different incarnation of the attraction, whereas the latter two attractions are gone completely. We tend to appreciate what we don’t have more than what we do.
In Spaceship Earth, guests board “time machine” ride vehicles and travel through time from the beginning of civilization and slowly progress towards present day. From hunter-gatherer civilization and markings on cave walls to books, telephones, radios, film, television, and computers, the evolution of society is depicted with a communication motif. The newest (2007) version of Spaceship Earth features a dumbed-down script and lacks concluding show scenes in favor of expanses of dark space and in-ride touch screens, but other than that, the attraction (to me) is as impressive as ever. To learn more about specific scenes, check out Martin’s video on Spaceship Earth:
Despite this, Spaceship Earth is likely the most significant theme park attraction ever. It was amazing-enough that in the late 1970s Disney decided to break from the Castle tradition of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom with such a futuristic icon but also one that would house an attraction. On top of that, the structure’s elevated design defied conventional engineering beliefs at the time that only 75% of the geodesic sphere could be off the ground. Finally, involvement on Spaceship Earth by a slew of Imagineering legends, collaboration with Ray Bradbury on the attraction’s script, and subsequent involvement with legends like Walter Cronkite and Jeremy Irons, plus a beautiful song and score have cemented its spot as the most important theme park attraction ever built. Other attractions have resonated with various individuals more on personal levels, but there’s little denying that Spaceship Earth is the defining EPCOT Center attraction that helped put the park on the radar of the general public back in 1982.
To me, the mere existence of such an incredible structure and attraction wholly embodies the EPCOT Center mantra, “We’ve just begun to dream!”
On to the user submitted photos! Unfortunately, only one from the inside (if you have any, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add them to this post).
To all of you who submitted photos, I am eternally grateful. These vintage posts would not have been possible without your generosity. For photographer attribution and other information, hover your cursor over each photo. Also, be sure to check out our photo credits page. If you have EPCOT Center photos, please check out our EPCOT Center Photo Search page for details on how to submit them!
The above photo and the photo immediately below it were taken from the monorail in June 1982 when Disney was offering previews of EPCOT Center from the monorail!
Please share your Spaceship Earth thoughts and memories in the comments, and be sure to share this post with your friends via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.!